Cities across the country are being inundated with illegal immigrants due to the crisis at the southern border.
Now, one city in Maine is asking for the public’s help to deal with it.
Officials in Portland, Maine, are asking people to make donations that are tax deductible so that they can provide housing for illegal aliens who have come to the city in the thousands.
Just last week, the city announced that the Portland Expo Center would be transformed for use as overnight housing for asylum seekers who have recently entered the United States.
In a statement, the city’s director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Kristen Dow, said:
“The intent is to open [the expo center] and offer complete and total wrap-around services that are targeted to the population that will be staying here.”
Among this population are individuals who are able to enter America illegally at first, only to declare asylum status once they have made it here, which is technically permissible.
When this happens, these illegal immigrants receive a hearing in court that’s usually scheduled far into the future. At that hearing, it’s determined whether that person qualifies for asylum status in the U.S.
In the meantime, many of these illegal immigrants make their way to cities and states where they’re able to receive free services — and Portland, Maine is one of those cities.
Last spring, the city said that its budget was in a “dire situation” because of the influx of these individuals. At the time, officials said that overall social services were under significant strain as a result.
In her statement, Dow said that she expected nearly 300 people to show up at the expo center for the first night of the overnight stay being allowed. That’s only a small fraction of the total number of illegal immigrants who have made their way to Portland recently, though.
Since the start of this year, about 1,000 people have come to Portland after crossing into the U.S. illegally at the southern border. While that may not sound like a lot, there are only 70,000 total residents in Portland.
Speaking with local news stations recently, Danielle West, the interim city manager, said:
“This is a very dire situation, and the opening of the expo is the last overnight overflow space that we as city staff have available to open and operate. We are truly beyond our capacity to be able to continue to provide compassionate care for those seeking shelter.”
The Expo Center is scheduled to be open through August for this purpose, and will apparently be dedicated just to illegal immigrants who are in need of services. But, since the city doesn’t have the funds to pay for it, they’re asking for donations.
Online, Portland posted a notice that reads:
“The City will use any monetary donations received to provide shelter/housing assistance and basic human necessities.”